Forgive me Lord, for I have sinned: it is nine weeks since my last grayling.
It is indeed just on nine weeks since I last caught a grayling. Now this would not normally worry me, but...the previous nine trips to the rivers ALL produced at least one grayling for me. These rivers are not overflowing with our ladies, but to follow nine successes with nine failures is just not right. Unfair tactics by old Thymallus. And I have no idea why! The rivers were very similar in character on all of the days I fished. Low and clear. The only thing worth mentioning is that the two batches of trips, the successes and the failures were separated by the almost biblical and constant floods of January and February. Had the fish forgotten how to feed? So I wonder if my sins have been visited upon me so as to see me fail, and possibly caused those floods to be unleashed upon us too. Have my sins directly been responsible for bestowing the incessant rains upon us, and was I supposed to have built an Ark or something instead of angling?
Sadly for this theory, I have been an atheist since I was six months old, or perhaps since Jesus was conceived, whichever period is the longer. And of course since then I have always been completely pure and untarnished: White as Snow, although I admit I Mae have occasionally drifted to the West. There's one for all you trivia aficionados!
But something has changed to make finding those grey ghosts more difficult, and I have no idea what it is. The trips have not been blanks, and many a brown trout nuisance has graced my line during the last couple of months, together with just a couple of chub.
So today was the last knockings of the coarse season, and one final fling was needed, one last limp down to the river bank. Just half a day, as I need to finish packing my gear for the trip, because I catch the London Train for the first leg at stupid o'clock tomorrow morning. But I would rather be stupid than miss the plane. Only 23 Kilos in my baggage allowance though...enough room for three rods and all the bits and pieces to go with it, together with some bait...if I can get that through customs at the far end? Some careful packing will be needed.
The morning today began as usual: brown trout, more nuisance fish, 7 of them from the first two swims I occupied. One was a big nuisance of a little over two pounds, the other a major pest of three pounds. The rest were small, 4 to 8 ounces. They were obviously making hay whilst the sun shone ( it didn't), and feeding furiously in imagined safety whilst the last of the trout close season ebbed away. Were I able to fish tomorrow in the UK, I have no doubt that the trout would have all disappeared, and the out of season grayling would be throwing themselves on the hook.
But then I changed swims again, at about 11 o'clock, to a spot I have never fished before. Missed a nibble immediately. I had repeated my prayer in the title of this post several times over during the day, partly to take the mickey out of my Catholic wife ( whilst she was not there of course), partly to remind myself of what the post title would be. But I suddenly found that my prayers had actually been answered, and I found myself playing a fish that fought very differently from all those trout. It was jagging away at the rod tip quite viciously, typical grayling, with no aerobatics at all, and then it sort of "hung" in the current, presumably using its huge dorsal fin to present a large cross section area to the current. The swim was precarious indeed, and I had only brought my four foot landing net handle with me, for I had not anticipated fishing from a high banking. But with a stretch I landed the fish without falling in, a nice grayling a couple of ounces over the pound mark.
Quite a thin fish...maybe a sign that it too has not found feeding in the floods very easy? Over the next thirty of forty minutes I landed 4 more of them, all bigger than the first, all a little thin, the largest being a very dark coloured male of a pound and nine ounces. All good fish for the river, which I suspect does not grow them very much larger. The famine was over, the sea, or river, had parted and allowed me back in. Back home by one fifteen, after a great morning's fishing. Good enough to almost make me take up religion.....almost. But not quite.